Gene Haas has revealed today that he is looking at a very short list for potential drivers of his new eponymous F1 outing and none of them are Alex Rossi.
Despite rumors and fan hopes for an American in Formula One again, Haas said his short list is narrowed down to the trio of Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg. Haas is in no hurry to decide just yet, opting to wait on how the driver market shakes out, but drivers with recent F1 experience are what he is targeting.
Both Vergne and Gutierrez are Ferrari reserve drivers and his team’s relationship to the Scuderia could go a long way to securing a new race seat for one or both. In that sense Hulkenberg is the outsider, but the midfield star and recent Le Mans winner is enjoying some of the best form of his career. Haas may be deterred by Force India’s large €4,000,000 a year paycheck for the German. However the opportunity to be a team leader may make the Hulk willing to make the jump, especially if a future Ferrari ride is a possibility provided he shows his chops at Haas.
Gene Haas has been around the block a time or two and his vast experience with NASCAR and IndyCar has guided his prudent choices in the way he is developing this new Formula One team. The partnership with Ferrari, the search for an experienced driver; all the sounds coming from Haas F1 are positive developments that portend a debut far stronger than those of Virgin, Caterham and HRT back in 2010, to say nothing of USF1 which fell flat on its face.
I expect that once the silly season shakes out, we will get another announcement from Haas and at least one of the three drivers mentioned today will get the nod to start for the first U.S. Formula One team in decades.
Image: Haas F1